JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): We haven't, for reasons which you all know, I think seen the development of relations at the pace, until now, which we had hoped as NATO to see, but the new government has set as a priority full PfP participation as well as defence reform. And NATO stated in Bucharest its readiness to further develop a substantial and ambitious relationship with Serbia. The security agreement that was signed today is an important step in that direction. It will facilitate more substantial military-to-military contacts and other areas of cooperation as well. So this was a step strongly welcomed by NATO.
Of course there are still areas in which Serbia and NATO need to continue discussion and where NATO allies would like to see further progress. One of those areas is, of course, continuing cooperation, full cooperation, with the International Tribunal, that means, as we all know, General Mladic in the Hague. Minister Sutanovac reiterated his government's strong commitment to helping to make that happen as they have, of course, taken a very, very important step with Radovan Karadzic.
That was the first point I wanted to mention. Second, this week... I say this week because there were two steps, but this week the Strategic Airlift Capability—open brackets C-17—Initiative, took a big step forward after the 12 SAC: Strategic Airlift Capability nations—I'll give you their names, the names of the nations—completed the signature of the SAC Memorandum of Understanding. This brings into force—I know this is technical, but excuse me for that—this brings into force the Charter of the NATO Airlift Management Organization. And it is the NATO Airlift Management Organization, or NAMO, which will acquire three C-17 aircraft to meet the strategic airlift requirements of the SAC member nations which include 10 NATO members and two non-NATO countries. They are Sweden and Finland, the two non-NATO countries.
Do you want the list of the NATO countries? Yes? Or... yeah? Okay. Here we go: Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and the United States, as well as Finland and Sweden. You know, of course, that Canada has also acquired or is acquiring three C-17s which they have said could potentially be used for NATO missions as well, and I think they've already acquired the first one.
This will provide an important new capability to address the critical Alliance need for strategic airlift as well as other national missions: EU missions, UN missions. We also see it as a model for future capability development; bringing together interested countries to together acquire a capability that can be put at the disposal at the Euro-Atlantic community.
This creation of the NAMO, this Airlift Management Organization is the result of two years of negotiations within NATO. And among the participants, covering issues relating to, of course, establishing the organization itself, but manning, equipping, basing, and operating the fleet. It remains open to other NATO and PfP nations to join in the future.
The C-17 fleet will be based at Papa Airbase, P-A-P-A in Hungary. It will be... hang on a second... to operate the C-17s, a heavy airlift wing is what it's called, will be created under the initial command of a U.S. Air Force officer with a Swedish deputy commander. It will be manned by international crews assigned by the participating nations, and as I say, will conduct missions based on their national requirements which can of course include NATO missions, EU missions, UN missions, or their own simple national requirements based on the number of hours which they have purchased; flying hours which they have purchased.
The aircraft will be of the same configuration as those operated by the U.S. Air Force, by Australia, by Canada, by Great Britain. It's all the same configuration. Crews will be trained to the same standards. The first aircraft is anticipated to be delivered in spring 2009, and the second and third aircraft are expected to arrive at Papa in summer 2009.
As I say this is seen as a step forward in addressing a major shortfall in Alliance's... in Alliance capabilities. It is a model for pooling resources, sharing costs to develop a collective capability beyond the reach of, or not practical for, many nations individually. And obviously the participation of Sweden and Finland is a very welcome example of NATO partner cooperation. We will put out a press release which pretty much says what I just read to you in a little while.
That's the second bit. I can see your mind churning to ask me questions I can't answer. But I bet you you can't.
Third thing is just to give you a little taste of New York. The Secretary General spent last week at the General Assembly in New York. He met with... and I'll just kind of run through it and give you one-sentence on each: the senior UN leadership, including, of course, Secretary General Ban, the Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Operations and for Humanitarian Affairs, as well as informally the head of the World Food Program. With all of them, of course, Afghanistan was discussed extensively. He also met, by the way, with Kai Eide, the Secretary General... the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA.
The security situation, but in particular the political environment, was discussed extensively with all of the UN officials. There was a clear consensus that it would be very important for the elections slated for next year to go forward, and for the appropriate support to be provided by the international community. UNAMA is working very hard. From its responsibilities, NATO ISAF is also committed to helping provide support, first for the voter registration process which has I understand already started... I don't know if you can say started, to begin... has already begun... is in its initial phases, and for the security for the elections itself.
The Secretary General met with President Karzai. Again, stressing the importance of holding the elections, the two sets of elections, presidential and then parliamentary, on schedule. President Karzai shared that desire. They discussed quite extensively the need for further reform within Afghanistan, something which President Karzai, I must say, stressed himself very heavily; the need to improve governance. In essence to give the people of Afghanistan a government which they can support.
The Secretary General then met with... well I don't know if it was in order, but met with Foreign Minister Qureshi of Pakistan. The Foreign Minister strongly welcomed statements that NATO has made with regard to Pakistan, with regard to the need to see Pakistan as part of the solution. The Secretary General and the Foreign Minister agreed that Pakistan and Afghanistan face the same challenge of militant extremism, and that there needs to be a joint, and indeed regional, approach to solving this problem. The Secretary General will at a certain stage go to Pakistan to meet with the President, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister to help deepen the political relationship, not just the military relationship, but the political relationship between Pakistan and NATO. They also agreed that the military-to-military relationship should deepen, including offering training... NATO offering training to Pakistani military officials.
The Secretary General met with the Australian and New Zealand Foreign Ministers. Again, you will not be surprised Afghanistan was the main topic of discussion. He met with President Sejdiu of Kosovo. I wouldn't say... how to put this? They discussed political developments in Kosovo. They discussed the evolution or the transition, let's put it that way, the transition between the UN mission and the EU missions. The Secretary General assured President Sejdiu that KFOR will continue to carry out its mission as mandated by the United Nations throughout Kosovo.
The Secretary General met with the Iraqi President, Mr. Talabani. You know that NATO has a training mission in Iraq, something that is very much welcomed by the Iraqis. In particular, as they increasingly take over security responsibilities for their own country, leadership training as well as the... so for senior officers, as well as for non-commissioned officers which NATO is providing... is seeing results, and the Iraqi President would like to see NATO continue to provide its support. I think that that will be met with a very open mind by NATO allies.
Then it was... the final category would be Middle East and North Africa meetings, or in the NATO context Mediterranean Dialogue and ICI. The Israeli President as well the Egyptian Foreign Minister, the Jordanian Foreign Minister, the Emir of Qatar, et cetera. The Secretary General had an extensive discussion with all of them on the Middle East, the security situation in the Middle East, the political progress and the Middle East peace process. Not, of course, that NATO has a lead role here, but simply to share views. Most concretely for us there was a desire both with the participants in the Mediterranean Dialogue and with those in the ICI to deepen the relationship, to establish more regular and more formal meetings at the political level, and we are working on a schedule to do that.
Finally, let me just give you a little taste of Budapest, and I... well, I'll not make a bad joke. In essence, the informal working lunch of North Atlantic Council Ministers of Defence, so NATO Ministers of Defence, with the two invitees, let me point that out, Albania and Croatia, will be represented in the meeting.
It starts at 13:00. It will go to about 15:30, 15:35. At 16:00 to 18:30 there will be a meeting, an informal meeting of ministers of defence in ISAF format; so all the ISAF troop-contributing nations will be represented at ministerial level. Followed by a press conference at 18:40 by the Secretary General.
The next morning again a working session, NATO only at 9:00 a.m., and then a press conference at 11:10... No, sorry, am I missing something? No, no that's... I think this is a little out of date. No, no, it's still fine. Okay, so that's where we are now. I might update that because I have something in my head that tells me I'm missing something.
That's what I wanted to mention. Please go ahead.
Q: Okay, yeah, a few questions. The first thing there is... I have three questions pertaining to the C-17s.
APPATHURAI: I was afraid of that.
Q: Your office temporarily will be located in Luxemburg and then moved to Hungary to manage the fleet. Any idea yet where that will be? And number two, what's going to be the impact of this on the SALIS Initiative, how much longer into the future once the C-17s are purchased, will they continue to rely on Antonovs? And three, Italy is hesitating about joining the program, says it will clarify its position by the end of December politically. But if it doesn't, costs go up. Are there any options, bring in more partners, turn to the east, whatever? Thanks.
APPATHURAI: Thank you. I can answer these relatively quickly. Hungary, where is the office going to be? I don't know. If it's not at Papa, I don't know, but I'll find out. SALIS, I do know that it is considered also to be important and valuable, and that there are discussions underway for extending it. So, yeah, that's that. And as for Italy, let us see where it goes. As you say the Italian government is discussing it. I know that Prime Minister Berlusconi personally is engaged in this file. So let us wait and see what they decide.
Q: I also have three questions. The first two relate to Afghanistan. When you talk about the elections, the last time there were elections, NATO increased the amount of people it had there with ISAF, notably through use of NRF assets. Is something like that going to happen again this time around?
Secondly, there have been reports that NATO AWACS could be used in Afghanistan, but there's been some problem with the funding as to who's going to pay for their deployment. Can you let us know where we stand on that?
And thirdly, was there some sort of agreement signed in New York with the United Nations, and what is that cooperation agreement?
APPATHURAI: Thank you. I'll come back... let me just check one thing which I... yeah. I think I can say that there will be a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission, the first meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission on Friday after the first... that's right, after the first working meeting. So there will be a working meeting from 9:00 to 11:00, and then there will be a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission after that.
Q: The press conference will be between the two?
APPATHURAI: The press conference will be after the two, yes. Okay, so I can say that. I hope I'm not about to be fired.
Will there be an increase in forces for the elections? There is a discussion within military... within the military chain of command as to whether or not that will happen, if that is necessary, and if they decide up to and including SHAPE that it is necessary that will then go, of course, through the Military Committee to the ambassadors, but yes, you're right, it happened last time, and yes, you're right, it's being discussed now again.
AWACS. The discussion continues within military circles as to the... Oh sorry, within NATO. It continues within NATO, on the possible deployment of AWACS to support the mission in Afghanistan. We have no result as yet.
And finally, yes, there was the signature of a joint declaration on UN-NATO cooperation signed by the two Secretaries General. They welcomed the decade of cooperation between the UN and NATO in support of the work of the United Nations, and to provide a framework for expanded consultation and cooperation between their respective organizations, the respective secretariats have agreed that further cooperation would contribute to addressing the threats and challenges that the international community faces. They underscored this agreement, this joint declaration, excuse me, the joint declaration underscores the importance of establishing a framework for consultation and cooperation, including, as appropriate, through regular exchanges and dialogue at senior and working levels on political and operational issues, as well as reaffirming their willingness to provide, within their respective mandates and capabilities, assistance to regional and subregional organizations as requested and as appropriate.
Some of the issues of common interest include, but are not limited to, communication and information sharing, including on issues pertaining to the protection of civilian populations; capacity building, training and exercises; lessons learned; planning and support for contingencies; and operational coordination and support.
What is important to note is that this will be... this cooperation will develop in a practical fashion. It was take into account each organization's specific mandate, expertise, procedures and capabilities.
This establishes, in essence, a formal link at the Headquarters level to reflect and help deepen what is a decade-long experience of practical cooperation. It is intended to be pragmatic. There are no politics attached to this, but it does establish an appropriate framework for deepening our cooperation in the areas that I mentioned.
Q: À propos de l'Afghanistan et du Pakistan...
APPATHURAI: Oui... oui.
Q: ...il y a eu un rapport des services d'intelligence espagnols qui, noir sur blanc, fixe qu'il y a une coopération de services d'intelligence pakistanais pour la formation de talibans. Par ton visage, je crois que vous n'êtes pas renseignés. Je voulais savoir ça, la première, si vous étiez renseignés sur ça. Et si vous en avez eu d'autres d'informations, disons, de je ne sais pas de services d'intelligence ou de... ou plus officielles donc pour pouvoir voir s'il y a d'autres pays qui ont constaté la même chose Et quelle est l'influence de tout ça dans les relations avec le Pakistan et les projets que vous avez pour renforcer ou pas la situation en Afghanistan?
APPATHURAI: Vous comprendrez, malheureusement, que tout ce qui est question de renseignement je ne pourrais pas discuter en public. Ça va sans dire. J'ai vu dans la presse évidemment des commentaires assez... qui disent à peu près la même chose. Mais pour tout ce qui est question de renseignement, échanges entre gouvernements, je ne suis absolument pas permis d'en discuter. C'est aussi simple que ça.
Q: (Inaudible...) une importation... Il n'y a pas de garantie sur la question pakistanaise. Est-ce que vous ne craignez pas que des pays qui doivent... qui doivent ou pas augmenter ces importations pour renforcer (inaudible...) en Afghanistan, ce n'est pas un peu chez vous?
APPATHURAI: Tous les alliés comprennent l'importance d'augmenter la force en Afghanistan, mais pas seulement d'augmenter la force internationale en Afghanistan, de plus en plus de renforcer les forces afghanes. Et ça, c'est une décision et une analyse qui restent indépendantes de ce qui se passe au Pakistan. C'est important en tant que tel.
Évidemment, tout le monde comprend que le soutien qui vient en particulier des régions frontalières en Afghanistan et maintenant de plus en plus dans l'autre direction... c'est quoi le mot?... sape à la sécurité, nuise à la sécurité en Afghanistan. Alors, ce qui se passe... tout simplement ce qui se passe au Pakistan évidemment touche à la sécurité en Afghanistan. Mais pour tout ce qui est question de services de renseignement, ça je ne peux pas discuter. Je suis désolé.
Q: (Inaudible...) on Georgia and Ukraine. When do you expect allies to have a first formal discussion about their... sorry, the next formal discussion on their MAP aspirations? And just in terms of the process, the meeting in December, is the idea to actually take a decision, or merely to review that whole process?
APPATHURAI: I don't know when there would be a next formal discussion. That's a good question. I'm not sure there would be necessarily a formal, formal discussion. It could take place in informal circles. The meeting in December is designated as, as you know, a first assessment. That is the formal language agreed in Bucharest.
Now, as to whether or not the first assessment could lead to an immediate decision or whether that would come subsequently, it is really impossible for me to say. The decision is first assessment.
Sorry, I'm not trying to dodge it, but that's...
Q: Tejinder from New Europe. Last week Imran Khan from... a political leader from Pakistan and MEP with Pakistani origin, Mr. Karim, they held a press conference in the Parliament and it was stressed that this strategy has failed. They called for a change of strategy. He explained in detail about... citing his first-hand information with his contacts with the tribal leaders and all that, that this strategy is failing and there should be a change of strategy. Is there anything NATO has to comment on that?
And also the latest reports about the refugees going from Pakistan to Afghanistan, which is the reverse.
APPATHURAI: On the first issue, I mean, I presume when you say this strategy, that means the current civilian government strategy. Certainly it would not be for NATO to comment on that. What we... what NATO wishes to do is to indeed support the civilian government, engage with the civilian government, which clearly recognizes that the instability in that region is as much a threat to Pakistan as it is to Afghanistan. It is not for NATO to comment on the internal decisions taken by that government. You'll understand, of course, why.
What we want to see, of course, are the same results that the Pakistani government wants to see, which is a diminishment in the extremism in that area. But you're quite right to point out the flow of refugees, as well as by the way the flow of... possible flow of support to extremists in the other direction. I have seen press reports with... in that regard. This only reinforces the point this has not become an issue that can be dealt with by closing off the border. It is not an issue that is Afghanistan's problem alone. It is very much a problem for Pakistan as well, which means a strengthened relationship between the two presidents, between the two governments, as well as with the international community is vital.
The Turkish initiative, to once again, I think it is, convene the two presidents, to help them build a relationship is a very welcome one. Everything I read says that the personal relationship between the Pakistani president and the Afghan president is very good. And I think on both sides the governments recognize that they need to work together.
So certainly since this new government has come into place what we see is a very positive spirit between them and that's very important.
Q: I want to... just to follow up.
Q: (Inaudible...) actually what they had pinpointed was lack of ground troops... troops on the ground, and so the NATO is using more and more air power, which is damaging the... which is causing a lot of civilian deaths and which is alienating the people. So that strategy...
APPATHURAI: Inside Afghanistan.
Q: Yeah. From Afghanistan, on the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
APPATHURAI: Ah well, I think what is important to stress, certainly when we're talking about Pakistan and air power, is that NATO forces do not cross the border into Pakistan. They do not fire across the border into Pakistan. Except if they are fired on and I don't know if any air forces have been engaged in any kind of firing across the border.
NATO forces are allowed, if fired on from the Pakistani side of the border, to fire back, but they do not cross the border. So we need to be very clear about that. And the Pakistani government understands that very well.
As to whether or not more ground forces are necessary or not, and the relative balance of air power and... we're all concerned at NATO, in NATO, about civilian casualties. We are concerned about the effect that this has on the acceptance of foreign forces by the Afghans. It was discussed again today in the Council.
I think the bottom line is this: First, NATO is making every effort, and once again has tightened its modus operandi to diminish to the maximum extent possible civilian casualties, including in the use of air power.
But, and again this was confirmed today, from Kabul all of the polling data that we have, including the most recent, indicates that support for international forces remains very strong. Sixty to seventy percent of the population continues to support the presence of international forces. They are not happy with civilian casualties. We are also not happy with the issue of civilian casualties, but they understand why international forces are there. They understand what would happen if international forces are not there, which would be far worse than anything we're seeing now.
So what do they want to see? They want to see greater coordination between NATO and Afghan forces. That will happen. They want to see more care taken in the use of air power. That will also happen. They want to see a more sensitive approach to house searches, using Afghan forces to conduct the house searches wherever possible. That will also happen. All of this has been directed by General McKiernan in the past few weeks, to address this issue. But I do not think that the general rumble that we see in the press about the Afghan population becoming tired of the presence of international forces... it is simply not true, based on what we have seen.
And might I add, this was confirmed to us very clearly by President Karzai. As you know President Karzai is not shy about making his voice heard on this issue. He was very clear to the Secretary General, as has been General Wardak. The Afghan population still wants you to stay.
Well, we've gone there, so, we'll come back.
Q: (Inaudible). A question on Serbia. Serbia got into the PfP together with Montenegro and Bosnia...
Q: ...but they took a lot longer to sign this agreement. I was wondering whether you can explain why it took a lot longer and whether now they are up to the same speed as the other two Balkan nations.
And secondly, whether you can give us any flavour of what were the discussions in London between the Ministers of Defence on what to do about the Baltics, whether there's any need to give them any sort of greater defence, reassurement.
And thirdly, quickly, if in Budapest, what you said on Georgia and Ukraine, there isn't any formal discussions scheduled yet, but I guess this is going to happen in Budapest informally.
APPATHURAI: Thanks. Why did it take longer? My understanding is it took longer to come to the signature of this agreement on the exchange of secure information because the government in Belgrade at the time, or until now, did not wish to go forward with that.
There was also the issue of cooperation with the International Tribunal where this new government has A, taken a very concrete step, Karadic, and B, indicated its desire to sign this agreement. So the ball was in Serbia's... was in Belgrade's court and they have now, I think, played it and we are happy they have done so.
Of course, there was a discussion in London on the issue.
Q: And they're saying(?)...
APPATHURAI: I think there are now some concrete steps that need to take place to establish now the formal link, so I think this can be done relatively quickly. It's technical. I'm not a 100 percent sure about this. I suspect that the other two simply have more well-developed technical arrangements as a result of having started earlier, but I can't confirm that.
Yes, of course, there was an informal discussion amongst the NATO Defence Ministers on the issue of planning and exercising for collective defence. The consensus, not a formal decision because this was not a decision-taking meeting, but the consensus was that NATO has always done what is necessary to ensure that the necessary... that the appropriate planning and exercising is in place for the defence of allied territory. That is one of our core... or "the" core task of NATO; that no one should be surprised if any prudent planning or any exercises take place in future to meet... to continue to meet, excuse me, that core task. And if and when such planning or exercises take place, this should be considered business as usual for NATO.
We'll go around. Thanks.
Q: Une question: Est-ce que tu peux repréciser le... le lieu et la date de la Commission Géorgie-OTAN? Je n'ai pas compris. Et alors, il y a, apparemment, eu un incident en Afghanistan avec des soldats néerlandais qui ont refusé de... qui auraient refusé de participer à une reconnaissance pour des raisons de sécurité. Quelles sont vos informations sur cet incident? Et quelles leçons vous pouvez en tirer?
APPATHURAI: Eh, la date et le lieu, c'est Budapest, vendredi 10 octobre, je pense à 11h00. Mais nous allons émettre un "press release" pour donner tous les détails.
Sur la deuxième question, je n'ai aucune information franchement que je n'ai pas vue dans la presse. C'est une question néerlandaise. Et on verra c'est quoi ce qui s'est passé. Je ne sais même pas ce qui s'est passé vraiment.
Q: I would come back to the Balkan Peninsula, if you don't mind?
APPATHURAI: The which, sorry?
Q: To the Balkan Peninsula.
APPATHURAI: The Balkan Peninsula. Love the Balkan Peninsula.
Q: Well Serbian Minister of Defence is today in NATO...
Q: And he's signing an agreement with NATO.
Q: Could we think about that as a turning point in the relations between NATO and Serbia? This is my first question. And the second question is, tomorrow Macedonian President Crvenkovski is also in NATO. Is there some movement concerning the official name of Macedonia?
APPATHURAI: Usually it's someone from the country that asks that question. To answer the first question, I don't know if turning point is the word I would use, but it's a substantial step forward. The decision by the former government, the previous government, Minister Jeremic, to go forward into PfP in 2006, was, I think, a very substantial step forward. This now makes it concrete and workable, so it is very welcome.
I think the political symbolism is as important as the practical effects, and that is that despite, obviously the historical differences between NATO and Serbia, which were not so long ago, and despite continuing, let us say, differences of views over some aspects of what's happening with regard to Kosovo, and in particular the recognition by some NATO countries of Kosovo as an independent state, both parties recognize the good will on the other side, recognize the value, the practical value of cooperation. And I think the larger symbolism, of course, for Serbia, is this is part of a wider trend of its return to the Euro-Atlantic and European mainstream and that's very, very important I think for the Balkan Peninsula.
I have absolutely no information on the name issue, just to be very clear. This was a regularly-scheduled meeting and I have no information about the name issue.
Q: Est-ce que cet ouragan financier qui a envahi les marchés financiers influence-t-il en quelque sorte les activités opérationnelles de l'OTAN? Et deuxième question, j'aimerais savoir quel est l'ordre du jour des premières sessions de la commission OTAN-Géorgie?
APPATHURAI: Merci. Je n'ai pas eu la moindre information que les opérations de l'OTAN ont été touchées par comme tu dis l'ouragan financier. Ceci dit, je pense que ce qui se passe dans les marchés et les effets sur les budgets nationals(sic) donnent un souffle aux discussions qui ont eu lieu à Londres et qui auront lieu à Budapest en ce qui concerne la coopération et l'efficacité de nos capacités.
Ça devient de plus en plus important d'avoir le plus d'efficacité possible....qui veut dire coopération, efficacité, programmes conjoints, minimisation de duplication non seulement évidemment entre l'OTAN et l'Union européenne, mais même au sein de l'Union européenne dans l'industrie de défense. Quelque chose qui sera discutée, j'en absolument sûr aujourd'hui à Deauville si je comprends bien. Parce que ce n'est pas aujourd'hui, mais en deux ans après que les milliards et les milliards auront été dépensés dans les marchés ou pour soutenir les marchés. C'est de l'argent qui aurait été utilisé par les gouvernements pour d'autres... d'autres idées.
Alors tous les gouvernements chercheront les meilleures façons d'avoir la meilleure valeur pour leurs euros. Et les budgets de défense sont énormes. Alors, je n'en doute pas que ça va améliorer encore une fois la coopération de défense.
Q: What is the main message from de Scheffer on that meeting with the Macedonian President? I cannot see the purpose of that meeting.
APPATHURAI: Well, the first purpose of the meeting is to discuss the cooperation between NATO and Skopje with regard to our partnership. Skopje is in the Membership Action Plan. There is a programme with an annual target plan and... sorry, annual national programme, I think that's what it's called, which has just recently now been submitted for the coming year. NATO wants to support the ongoing reforms, including in preparation for membership and that is the kind of discussion that NATO would have with any aspirant country, and certainly this country which is on the doorstep of an invitation to begin accession talks. It's a very important partner for NATO. So there's no doubt that there is a real reason to have this discussion.
As to what other messages may be delivered, Scheffer will give his press conference right after the bilateral. So there will be a press conference. We'll send out a media advisory. Yeah, follow-up.
Q: (Inaudible...) according to which document you call my country Skopje, according to which document, which...
APPATHURAI: Not according to any document.
Q: (Inaudible...) Macedonia Skopje, I can understand that you call FYROM, but Skopje?
APPATHURAI: I wasn't calling the country Skopje, I was calling the city Skopje, which is what it is.
Q: James, you mentioned on this new framework between UN and NATO, what makes difference? Could you give us a little bit of concrete examples which might... may happen after this? And where is EU in this framework situated?
APPATHURAI: To answer the second question first, I believe the European Union already has an agreement, an arrangement, of some kind, between itself and the UN, though I obviously don't speak for the EU.
In essence, what this does is two things. It establishes the political linkage at the Headquarters level, which we did not have before, as I say, reflecting the body of very practical cooperation in the field, which the two organizations have, and I can tell you nothing you don't know. In Afghanistan and in Kosovo, for example, the two organizations work hand-in-glove, talk every day, support each other. So in a sense it is only normal that at the Headquarters level also there is a relationship.
Second, and in the areas that I mentioned, this will provide a framework for the secretariats as they work together to focus their efforts in specific areas of interest, and that defines those areas of interest, so that the work has some sort of shape. And that's, in essence, what it is. I listed to you what these areas were.
Q: (Inaudible...). Does that mean there's going to be UN (inaudible...)?
APPATHURAI: I have no information that there would be a NATO... or a UN office in NATO. I've never heard of that. We...
Q: (Inaudible...) you mean by (inaudible...)?
APPATHURAI: Well, they fly back and forth. Our personnel are in UN Headquarters on a regular basis and vice versa, and I mean, on a very, very regular basis and at many levels. We have a liaison officer in DPKO, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, for precisely the reason that I mentioned. This is for military-to-military exchange. That could, perhaps, be enhanced, I don't now. For the moment that's what we have.
I think there was someone back there. All the way back.
Q: I'm from the Danish News Agency.
UNIDENTIFIED: That's good.
Q: Well, there was some rumours that the insurgents in the Helmand province in Afghanistan were... in the Helmand.
Q: Yeah. They got a new bomb, roadside bomb, and I wonder if you can confirm this information?
APPATHURAI: I can't confirm that. I had not heard that. I can say that we have seen the arrival into Afghanistan, from outside of Afghanistan, including Iran, weapons, including Improvised Explosive Devices, that pose a significant risk to our soldiers, but I could not say. I just don't know if a new kind of bomb has appeared in Helmand. I don't know. I haven't heard that before.
Ah-ha-ha! Patient, two patient guys at the front.
Q: Yeah, back to Afghanistan. Two quick questions. NATO troops don't cross into Pakistan or forces, by forces do you mean human forces only or what about the armed drones? That's one question.
And second, to bring in AWACS is to bring in a really big ISTAR gun, which can do target acquisition reconnaissance from afar, over the horizon, easily feed that to drones, and easily feed that to Pakistani forces. So why are the allies considering to bring in these AWACS?
APPATHURAI: Thank you. To answer the first question, no planes, no drones, no equipment and no personnel under NATO command, cross the border into Pakistan.
AWACS provide an air picture, right? These are not JSTARs, so...
Q: They've been upgraded (inaudible).
APPATHURAI: The purpose of the AWACS, if they are to be deployed, is to meet a shortfall in the air picture capability of Afghanistan. They do not have enough radars, ground-based radars, to meet what is an increasingly... to meet the demands of air traffic control in an air space that is getting more and more complicated because of military aircraft, because of civilian aircraft. The personnel who are responsible for managing air traffic increasingly say that it becomes very, very complicated with the different kinds of aircraft, the different levels at which they fly, the different missions which they perform. They have asked for AWACS to give them a more comprehensive picture of the air space, for air traffic control purposes. That is very clear.
Q: But AWACS is not an ATC platform, AWACS is target acquisition radar, communication and transfer of target acquisition information tool between different flying platforms, such as fighters?
APPATHURAI: They have asked for AWACS to provide them an enhanced air picture for air traffic control purposes.
Q: Okay then.
Q: What's holding it up?
Q: What's holding it up?
APPATHURAI: What's holding it up?
APPATHURAI: There are discussions amongst the allies on all of the considerations, military requirement, the basing, the cost, all the things that you would have to look at if you're making a decision like that.
Q: (Inaudible) from the Spanish News Agency (inaudible). James, can you tell us a bit more about the cooperation of NATO with Afghanistan to maybe give training to Pakistani officers? I mean, was this just a proposal that indeed was just welcomed by Islamabad, or will it be... or will you start working on a calendar quite quickly into this aspect?
And the other thing, if you allow me?
APPATHURAI: Yes, please.
Q: There's been a report yesterday that... from a commander in Afghanistan that says that the security problems in the west where Spain is operating is getting much, much worse and they're actually quite... well, Afghan forces are not... well, they would prefer to have other partners working with the Spanish because they think that they don't fight Taleban. They're not prepared to fight, so if there is an influx of Taleban from the south is this going to be a problem for the Alliance, and would there be reinforcements?
APPATHURAI: So that the Afghans don't want to work with the Spanish or the Spanish don't want to work with the Afghans?
Q: No, the Afghans would prefer to work, for example, with the Americans, because they say that the Taleban at least are scared of the Americans, but not of the Spanish, so...
Q: Is this worrying the Alliance as well? And then on top of it we have that Spain is going to cut down on the defence as well, and well, it's just all... and they want to cut down on forces as well, so.
APPATHURAI: To answer the first question, there is, I think, a shared view within NATO that offering enhanced military-to-military cooperation directly with Pakistan is a good idea and it has been welcomed now by the Pakistani government. One of the examples I mentioned was precisely this, training that NATO could provide to Pakistani forces, Pakistani military officials, military officers or personnel. And so I think that will go forward. I don't think it requires much more in the way of a decision, if I understand correctly.
But the Secretary General, when he goes, whenever that will be, I think will then take that forward, will make it more concrete and we can implement it.
I have not see this report. I have seen reports of some increase in security incidents in the west. I am not sure that what I have seen could clearly attribute that to a Taleban increase. It could be the case. I don't know. Sorry, I'm not giving you a very clear answer, but I don't have a very clear answer.
We have no... but I can say this. I have not heard the slightest questioning of the ability or determination of Spanish forces within the NATO hallways, ever. So no, there is no concern about Spanish capability within NATO.
Q: So the training of the Pakistanis will take place in Pakistan, or would you take them to Europe or to Afghanistan? And also, is it together with the Afghan force, or just it's NATO that's training the Pakistani without the Afghans?
APPATHURAI: Yeah, it would be NATO working with the Pakistanis directly. We, of course, train very carefully with the Afghans as well, and provide support to them. Where would it take place? Details remain to be determined, but certainly at least one of the options being considered is bringing Pakistani military personnel to NATO training facilities as part of, or complementary to the kind of training that NATO provides to so many countries outside of the Alliance.
Q: When the Pakistani president was in U.S. and there was a lot of media attention what he was doing, the Pakistani army chief was in China. Will NATO like to comment on what exactly went on there because he was not... you know, the relationships... you know the area very well, that whenever you say I'm going to get fired you never get fired because you know the area too well for the NATO to fire you. So will you like to comment on this Pakistani movement towards China?
APPATHURAI: What I can say is this: The Secretary General has said—this is a good way for spokespeople to avoid being fired—the Secretary General has said that for a lasting solution to the problems of the region there needs to be a regional solution. And he has specifically included China, with its very important role there, as being part of that solution, or potentially part of that solution.
I think stronger regional... well NATO believes, the Secretary General believes, that stronger regional relationships and cooperation can be very much to the benefit of a solution to this problem.
I think we all understand that the problems that Afghanistan faces are not completely Afghanistan's alone. Either in their origin or in their solution. And so a lasting... while we have to deal with the problem that Afghanistan faces inside Afghanistan, for a lasting solution, the wider region needs to be involved, and that can, and in the view of the Secretary General, could usefully include China.
Last one, then I gotta run.
APPATHURAI: It's all right.
Q: I have a follow-up on Afghanistan. So what... how does the NATO see... it seems that Karzai is asking Saudi Arabia to contribute to the negotiations with the Taleban.
Q: So is the NATO, you know, like they're (inaudible) the Taleban, so how would this structure work between negotiations with the Taleban, fighting them on the other side? We wanted a more political solution, also more based on the reconstruction and we don't have enough military anyway to sustain it that way.
APPATHURAI: The ultimate solution in Afghanistan will not be from a total military victory isolated from a political solution. That is very clear. And nobody has based any of our planning on that. The ultimate solution in Afghanistan, or for Afghanistan, will have to include a political solution. And President Karzai has made no secret of his desire to engage with those Taleban who are willing to abide by the constitution of Afghanistan. NATO wants to see, of course, a solution, and we will do what has been mandated to us by the United Nations and that is to help create a safe and secure environment.
If President Karzai wishes, on behalf of the Afghan people, and he has been elected by them, to engage with extremist elements, that is for him to do, and NATO will not interfere in that process. But we do believe, I think it is safe to say, that there will have to be some kind of reconciliation process with those who are willing to be reconciled as part of an overall solution.
Okay. That's what I got. My friends, have a good day.